FOOD HABITS OF FOUR SYMPATRIC COLUMBIDS (AVES: COLUMBIDAE) IN ZARIA, NIGERIA
The crop contents (regurgitates) of 154 Columbids comprising of 88 (57%)
Streptopelia sensgalensis, 20 (13%) Streptopelia semitorquota, 21 (14%) Streptopelia
decipiens and 25 (16%) Columba guinea trapped in the wild in Zaria and its environs
were examined from May 1998 to February 1999. The aim of the study was to assess
the food habits of the Columbids and to illustrate the concept of niche overlap and
differentiation which may aid in the management and possible domestication of these
species within the study area. Forty- eight food organisms (i.e. species or other taxa
that served as food for the Columbids) were isolated from the crop contents of the
birds through the administration of an emetic which induced the birds to regurgitate
their crop contents. These included wild and cultivated plant seeds as well as some
animal materials. Thirty-eight of the forty-eight foodâorganisms were isolated from S.
senegalensis, 25 from S. semitorquata, 20 from S. decipiens and 30 from Columba
guinea. Sorghum bicolor was the most frequent food-organism, having been found in
the regurgitates of 136 (82.6%) of the 154 birds. Sorghum bicolor appeared to be the
most important food component in the habitats of Columbids in Zaria.
Analyses of regurgitates showed a food niche over lap of 31.3% and a total food niche
differentiation of 33.5% between the four Columbid species studied.